Safety Tips

Fire Extinguishers

Your Best Firefighting Tool

You and your co-workers are all part of a team. In case of a fire, you will need to alert team members to help out. Firefighting tools are also essential. The best firefighting tool you can have close-at-hand is a fire extinguisher in good working condition. In many cases, the fire extinguisher alone will be enough to put out a fire in your area. In other cases, a fire extinguisher can reduce damage and limit the growth or extent of the fire. It may also buy you time as you make your escape from a potentially dangerous situation.

Types of Extinguishers

There are number of different types of extinguishers:

Dry chemical cartridge
Dry chemical, stored pressure
Carbon dioxide
Pressurized or pump - water extinguisher
Foam

Learn to use the types of extinguishers required in your work area.

Choose with Care

You need to know what type(s) of fire may likely occur on your jobsite. Then, you need to know what extinguisher to use for each class of fire. Read the following information to ensure you know what to do in case of a fire:

Class A Fire - fires that occur in "ordinary" combustible materials such as paper, wood, straw and cloth. The recommended extinguisher is water from a hose, pump type water can, or pressurized extinguisher. Action - soak the fire completely - even smoking embers.
Class B Fire - fires that occur over the surface of flammable liquids such as gasoline, oil and grease. The recommended extinguisher is dry chemical (ABC units), foam, and carbon dioxide extinguishers. Action - start at the base of the fire and use a swinging motion from left to right - always keeping the fire in front of you.
Class C Fire - fires that occur in electrical equipment. The recommended fire extinguisher is carbon dioxide, dry chemical (ABC units). Action - use short bursts on the fire. When the electrical current is shut off on a Class C fire, it can become a Class A fire if the materials around the electrical fire are ignited.

Fire Extinguisher Checklist

A fire extinguisher allows you to respond immediately to a fire. Go over this checklist to ensure you are prepared for all circumstances.

Is the fire extinguisher easy to find in your work area?
Is it damaged? Check for dents or signs of corrosion.
Is it mounted correctly?
Is it being maintained to manufacturer's specifications?
Is there a maintenance manual available for it?
Is it charged and ready for use?
Has the extinguisher been inspected according to current legislation?
If you are using a CO2 extinguisher, do you have respiratory protection to avoid breathing in the chemicals?

Often a fire will start in the storage area where a mixture of materials and chemicals create a potent or toxic fire. Be sure that fire safety plans include the use of protective clothing and devices such as self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) when required.

Take the time to practice and learn the techniques of operating fire extinguishers. Knowing you are confident with fire extinguishers will keep you calm in an emergency.

Fire Extinguishers at Home

All homes should be equipped with fire extinguishers.

A good place to keep a fire extinguisher is in the kitchen. There may be Class A, B, and/or C fires there, so make sure you have the right king of extinguisher to handle the job. Dry chemical or carbon dioxide are two good choices.

By following procedures similar to those at your work site, you'll ensure the safety of your family.

By working as a family "crew" you can avoid dangerous fires and extensive damages.

Use smoke detectors, practice fire prevention at home, and know how to use an extinguisher - it's all part of the "life" plan.

Prepare - Prevent - Protect

The cost of fires in terms of lives, lost production, injuries and damage is very high.

A proper fire safety program will reduce the number of fires and limit damage to materials, as well as save lives.

Fire extinguishers have to be available in sufficient numbers, variety and locations, because a fire can start anywhere, any time.

For more information, refer to current applicable Occupational Health and Safety Legislation.